Parliament impasse on price rise broken; government, opposition agree on compromise


New Delhi : The breakfast initiative of Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee paved the way Monday for the normal functioning of parliament after a week-long impasse between the government and the opposition over the nature of the debate on spiralling prices.

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The meeting Monday morning, which was attended by leaders of various political parties in the two houses of parliament, decided to discuss the price rise in an agreed formulation with the presiding officers expressing the sense of the respecctive houses.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Sitaram Yechury said after the meeting that the discussion on price rise will take place Tuesday.

The proceedings of both the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha were disrupted last week over the impasse on the nature of discussion on rising prices.

The opposition, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Left, insisted on discussing the issue under rules that entail voting. Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar had Wednesday rejected adjournment motion notices given by the opposition on price rise.

The Left parties had signalled Sunday that they were against the continued disruption of parliament and wanted it to resume its normal functioning.

CPI-M leader Basudeb Acharia told IANS that there were many other issues to be discussed and the party did not want the logjam to continue.

After meeting with Mukherjee, the BJP said that the decision to have a debate on price rise on an agreed formulation was a “compromise” forced on the government by the opposition.

Party leader Gopinath Munde said the government had all along been insisting on discussing rising prices under Rule 183 but the opposition exerted pressure to make it agree to a formulation in which the entire house will urge it to take adequate measures to check prices.

He said Opposition had stayed united on the issue.

The Congress said that the a joint formulation with the opposition on price rise was not an indictment of the government. Party spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said that food inflation was declining and prices were dependent on a range of factors, including the role of the state governments in checking hoarding and the impact of climatic conditions on agriculture.

With parliament resuming its normal functioning, members in the Lok Sabha raised the issue of renewed violence in Jammu and Kashmir resulting in civilian deaths.

Senior BJP leader L. K. Advani raised the issue during zero hour, asking the government to inform the house about the situation. Citing media reports, he said nine people had been killed in the violence in the Kashmir Valley Sunday.

Home Minister P. Chidambaram said that he would make a statement after discussions with state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who Monday came to the capital for consultations.

Samajwadi Party and Rashtriya Janata Dal members raised the demand for a caste-based census and staged a walk out when the government failed to respond.

The Rajya Sabha was briefly adjourned for 10 minutes following protests by the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and the Rashtriya Janta Dal (RJD) over an audit report pointing to graft in providing relief to the victims of the 2007 floods in Bihar.

Raising the issue during zero hour, LJP leader Ramvilas Paswan demanded that a report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) pointing to corruption of Rs.25 lakh in providing flood relief be discussed in the house.

Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan, rejected the demand, saying that it was a state subject and could not be raised in parliament.

Paswan, however, continued to raise the demand and was joined by RJD members, following which Khan adjourned the house for 10 minutes.

Paswan and the RJD members continued with the demand when the house reassembled and with Khan refusing to relent, members of the two parties staged a walk out.

Both the houses also took up bills Monday, with the Lok Sabha discussing the Securities and Insurance Laws (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2010 and the Rajya Sabha debating The Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Bill, 2010.